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As children we enjoyed puzzle books. One of my favourite’s were the “dot to dot” type puzzles where we began at dot#1 and using a pencil, connected the dots in numerical sequence. It wasn’t so much completing the puzzle, it was trying to work out or "see" what the picture was going to be. This “working out” or "seeing" process is known in Gestalt Psychology as “closure”.
Closure can be thought of as our natural ability to group “dots” of information together and predict a “picture” or an outcome. It seems that from birth, our brains begin to collect and arrange information into groups and patterns so that we can make sense of it. It’s worthwhile to note at this point that perception is a central factor in effective communication and accurate decision making.
Now closure can either be a friend or a foe; if we perceive a threat or a failure early on and take the correct action to avoid an unfavourable outcome then it’s a friend. On the other hand, using our skills of perception and closure can sometimes lead to disaster, such as when airline pilots misread their instrument panel and instead of flying level, either nose-dive into the ground or put the plane at such an incline it stalls. That’s when perception and closure can be a deadly foe.
In scripture, we can see many occasions where men have used their perception and closure processes such that it did not turn out well for them; the unbelieving soldier in 2 Kings 7 is a powerful example.
For the purpose of this article, I want to look at two examples of perception and closure I believe can help us today. Firstly, the two baskets of figs in Jeremiah 24 and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, in Luke 24.
As the Babylonian hordes were making their way to Jerusalem, the LORD was speaking to Jeremiah about the spiritual condition of the people; the people were always following after the stubbornness of their own hearts. The LORD told Jeremiah that praying and interceding for them would be a waste of time. The people of Jerusalem had become totally useless to the LORD. Then the LORD gives Jeremiah a “picture” to look at; two baskets of figs.
Firstly, the LORD asks Jeremiah what he sees, that is, the LORD confirms with Jeremiah that his perception is correct. At this point, Jeremiah knows that he knows that he knows he is hearing from the LORD. Secondly, the LORD explains what the good and rotten fruit in the baskets represents, that is, the LORD gives Jeremiah revelation, a supernatural impartation of spiritual understanding of events, past, present and future.
We might say that like Noah, Jeremiah had a picture of judgement and how to escape it. In Noah’s case, he was to build an ark for his family. With Jeremiah, the people were not to fight Babylon, but to submit.
By the time the false prophets began their ministry, Jeremiah was fully aware of the LORD’s plans and purposes for the Babylonian invasion, the judgement of the wicked and the captivity of Lord’s people. Jeremiah had no doubts about their lies and deceit, he was capable of answering them with the understanding of events he had received from the LORD. Now we can go to the New Testament.
In Luke 24, two disciples are on the road to Emmaus and their natural perception of events taking place around them lead them to the conclusion, the “closure”, that it was over. Jesus was dead and that was the end of it. They had joined some of the “dots” but their perception and closure were working against them. Then the Lord intervened. He opened up the scriptures to them, that is, he gave them revelation (spiritual understanding) of all the promises concerning His life, death and resurrection. In other words, Jesus helped them to join all the “dots” about Him correctly.
Now they could see, that is, spiritually perceive and comprehend the plans and purposes of God in Christ, past, present and future.
I believe these two examples demonstrate very clearly that if we try to perceive events, past, present and future, with our natural understanding we will get it wrong every time, and we will not see the Lord’s plans and purposes in our day and generation.
In Jeremiah’s day, the people thought Jeremiah was not only a fool but completely insane; how could destruction be coming to Jerusalem? How could it be that the LORD would destroy His people in His city?
There are several pictures I believe the Lord has given me over the last twenty years or so. Many of them were just “there”, no real waiting or seeking or anything like that, at the right time (and over a period of time) they just “dropped” into my thinking or my “vision”, so to speak.
These pictures include:
• Noah’s Ark, representing where we were in the past.
• The Apollo Spacecraft, representing where we will be in the future.
• The production line, how we were structured and organised in the past.
• The ant colony, how we will function as the ekklesia in the future.
• Abraham's travels, representing the journey of personal transformation each of us must undertake to move from the past into the future.
However, the picture that has taken a great deal of time for me to see, and I have only been able to see it clearly with the help of others, is that of the harlot described in the Book of Revelation and the judgement that is about to fall upon her.
At this point in human history, there are four areas continually uppermost in my mind:
1. The history, culture and structure of the church system (what most people would refer to today as, “Christianity”).
2. The times we are living in.
3. The plans and purposes of God that are yet to be fulfilled.
4. The need to undertake a journey of personal transformation (free radicals leave behind one entity and travel until they join a new entity in the future).
For many years I believed there needed to be a change in the church, but that was me seeing some of the “dots”, joining them and using my “closure” incorrectly. What I saw as “roadblocks” were divine restraints, holding me back from running with an incorrect vision.
Then I believed that the church would undergo a transformation process, a paradigm-shift in its thinking. Again, events seemed to conspire against me running with this vision. I was seeing a bit more of the Lord’s “big picture” but I was still short of the mark. I decided to wait.
Then I began to see the road of deception, delusion and destruction that natural Israel had taken. I began to see the parallels between natural and spiritual Israel and the church system and the body of Christ.
I began to see that what we call “church” is not the same as the body of Christ, they are two completely different spiritual entities. I now see “church” as a counterfeit of the body.
Over the last few years, since coming to Canada in 2007, my “vision” of the Lord’s “big picture” has changed, that is, expanded, dramatically. If I had been able to run with my previous vision(s), that is, “pictures”, I would have not only had the wrong conclusion, but like a pilot misinterpreting his instruments, I would have crashed and burned.
Prior to the flood it was only Noah and his family knew judgement was coming and what needed to be done to escape it. Likewise, today, it is only the Lord Jesus Christ and His family who know that judgement is coming and what needs to be done to escape it, that is, leaving the church system and undertaking a journey of personal transformation. Leaving behind the “old and dead” ways of the church system to enter into “a new and living way”.
When judgement of the harlot occurs, the Lord’s people must be out of her.
When judgement of this world occurs, it is only those who are safe in Christ will be spared.
Calling ourselves “Christian” won’t spare us.
The LORD did not spare those who fell in the desert, He did not spare the Northern Kingdom of Israel, He did not spare Jerusalem against the Babylonians or the Romans.
So today, I am getting ready to run with the vision, the picture I have in mind.
Have you seen it yet?
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